Thorns taken on Waves in first match since the Yates Report
PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - The Portland Thorns will take on the San Diego Wave Sunday in the National Woman Soccer League’s semi-final game, the first time playing at home since the Yates Report unveiled widespread abuse in the league.
The Thorns became the face of the investigation with the former U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates mentioning the team’s former leadership in nearly a third of the report. Even with the investigation on the top of everyone’s minds, including current players, the main goal this weekend is to beat San Diego and go to the championship in Washington, D.C.
“It was hard for players to see what was written in the investigation but at the same time as players, it’s very difficult for us to be able to do our job and find joy and passion in doing that,” Midfielder Crystal Dunn said.
For three weeks, the team has been away on an international break plus a bye week. During that time, Thorn’s defender, Becky Sauerbrunn, said she and her teammates took time to process their club being nearly at the center of the Yates Report.
“I think everyone is all over the place and basically figuring it out and how they’re feeling on their own timeline,” Sauerbrunn said.
Sauerbrunn was one of the first Thorns plays to call for the removal of all top Thorns executives, including Merritt Paulson.
“If we’re keeping people in positions who have enabled abuse, it’s going to start hurting the bottom line,” Sauerbrunn said. “It’s already hurting sponsors of the league and investment into the league.”
Early Friday afternoon, a group of timbers and thorns fans announced they were forming a group called onward rose city. The goal is to make both the thorns and timber supporter-owned. Organizers say this will help fans dictate the direction of both teams. Putting the Yates Report aside, the Thorns have their eyes locked on the championship. Sunday’s game against San Diego is the Thorn’s chance to show the Rose City why it’s soccer city USA.
“For the fans I know it’s been challenging for them to ride this with us,” Dunn said. “But I think a lot of people are going to show up and support us and share the burden with everything we’ve endured this year. I think that’s amazing.”
Kick-off is at 2 p.m. If the Thorns win, they’ll either play OL Reign or the Kansas City Current next Saturday in Washington D.C.
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